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DraftKings NHL Preview: Notable Player Status Updates for the 24 Playoff Teams

Matt Meiselman goes team-by-team through all the pertinent player news in the NHL as we get ready for the start of the playoffs on Aug. 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NHL is getting close to resuming its season, and a lot has changed since games were last played back in mid-March. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the players on each team with relevant status updates heading into the NHL Playoffs.


Set your DraftKings lineups for Saturday’s NHL slate here: NHL Return to the Rink [$20K to 1st]


Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins

Ondrej Kase

Kase was a key acquisition from the Ducks at this year’s trade deadline to help bolster the Bruins’ scoring depth, but his status is unclear going forward. Kase was given the vague declaration of “unfit to participate” in Bruins training camp, but the team does expect to have him available at some point during the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos

Stamkos had core muscle surgery in early March and wasn’t on the ice when the season was first suspended. He was back at practice in this summer’s training camp but suffered a new lower-body injury which puts his status in jeopardy for the round-robin games. The Lightning may be cautious with Stamkos right away, but it sounds like he’ll be good to go for the team’s first playoff series.

Washington Capitals

None

Philadelphia Flyers

Oskar Lindblom, James Van Riemsdyk

Lindblom’s story earlier this season was one of the more tragic occurrences for the NHL in recent memory, as he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and has been out for several months. Lindblom apparently finished his treatments in June, however, and there’s actually a chance that he winds up participating in the NHL Playoffs. It’s unclear if Lindblom will play or not, but the Flyers have included him on the playoff roster.

Van Riemsdyk suffered a broken finger in early March and is apparently back at full strength heading into the playoffs. He’s been one of the Flyers’ best players this season and should play a large role in helping Philly to make a deep playoff run.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, John Marino

Crosby was apparently dealing with an undisclosed injury during training camp but he’s resumed practicing. Even though he might be held out of an exhibition game or two as a precaution, it doesn’t sound like his status is in jeopardy for the round-robin games.

Guentzel was originally expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-2020 season after shoulder surgery in December, but the extra time off has allowed him a chance to recover in time for the playoffs. One of the Penguins’ most prolific scorers, Guentzel will provide a big offensive boost as he appears to be ready to go when the season resumes.

Marino is just a rookie but he’s been a key contributor on defense for the Penguins this season and he should be back at full strength for hockey in August. Marino initially had facial surgery in February but returned in early March and probably won’t have to wear the full face mask he needed to previously be wearing.

Carolina Hurricanes

Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Sami Vatanen

Hamilton suffered a fractured fibula in January and was expected to miss the rest of the season but by all accounts he’d recovered and was going to be ready for the NHL Playoffs in August. Since then, Hamilton has apparently suffered a new lower-body injury and his status is now in jeopardy for the qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. Hamilton is arguably Carolina’s best player and certainly is the team’s best offensive defenseman and his absence would be extremely tough to overcome. The Hurricanes were also already planning to be without one of the team’s other top defensemen, Brett Pesce, who remains out after having shoulder surgery in March.

One positive note for the Hurricanes is that trade deadline acquisition Sami Vatanen is ready to play. Vatanen was out with a lower-body injury in March and he becomes especially important now with Hamilton and Pesce both injured.

Goalie Battle: The Hurricanes are also one of a few teams with an ongoing goalie competition heading into the playoffs. Coach Rod Brind’Amour has yet to determine the playing time breakdown between Petr Mrazek and James Reimer.

New York Islanders

Adam Pelech, Thomas Greiss, Semyon Varlamov

Pelech hasn’t played since December after sustaining an Achilles’ injury, but he appears to be ready to go for when the Islanders take on the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round. Pelech isn’t much of an offensive contributor, but his return to the lineup will be key in solidifying the Islanders’ defense.

Goalie Battle: Islanders goalies Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov have shared the net for much of the 2019-2020 season and coach Barry Trotz has said a decision hasn’t been made yet regarding playing time in the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews, Andreas Johnsson

Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 in June, but remained relatively symptom-free and is in the clear heading into the Leafs’ series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has been deemed “fit to play” and has rejoined the team.

Johnsson had knee surgery in February and was looking at an extended absence from hockey, but he could be available for the Leafs at some point during the playoffs. It doesn’t sound like he’s ready yet, but he could be a difference maker for Toronto if the team can advance further in the playoffs.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Texier

Jones fractured his ankle in February and was likely going to be out for the season, but he’s apparently ready to play now that he’s had the extra time to heal. Jones was activated off injured reserve in June and should provide a big boost to a shallow group of Blue Jackets’ defensemen.

Bjorkstrand, the Jackets leading scorer with 21 goals this year, had ankle surgery in March but is reportedly fully recovered. As is Texier, who was activated in late June, ending a six-month absence after suffering a back injury in December.

Florida Panthers

None

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider

The Rangers’ only notable injured player at the time of the suspension of the season, Kreider is set to return to the lineup when the qualifying round series against the Carolina Hurricanes gets underway. Kreider hadn’t played since February but should be fully recovered from the foot injury he was dealing with.

Montreal Canadiens

Max Domi

Domi’s status was in doubt for the 2020 NHL Playoffs because he has Type-1 diabetes but he’s decided to play and it’ll be a big help to the Canadiens’ scoring ability. Domi was third on the Canadiens in both goals and points this year and his decision to continue his season might be one of the more overlooked elements of this year’s playoffs.


Set your DraftKings lineups here: NHL Return to the Rink [$20K to 1st]


Western Conference

St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko was likely going to be back for the 2020 NHL Playoffs whether the season was suspended or not, as he was nearing a return in March from shoulder surgery that he had all the way back in October. Tarasenko was one of the driving forces in the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup run and he’s one of the league’s most pivotal players to be making a return when the season resumes.

Colorado Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Philipp Grubauer

The Avalanche were easily the most injury-ravaged team in the NHL in March, dealing with injuries to almost all of the team’s top-end scorers. Starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer had been out since mid-February as well, but the long layoff seems to have provided enough time for everyone to make it back for the Avalanche. This is one of the best and deepest teams in the league and Colorado will now be at full strength for the NHL Playoffs.

Vegas Golden Knights

Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Marc-Andre Fleury, Robin Lehner

Stone was facing a lengthy absence back in February, but with the extra time to heal he’s back to full strength as the Knights get ready for the playoffs. One of the most underrated players in the NHL, Stone will provide a massive boost on both ends of the ice for Vegas.

Pacioretty, on the other hand, may not actually be ready yet when the Knights return to the ice. He reportedly suffered a minor injury during training camp and his status is in doubt for the round-robin games beginning in August. Coach Peter DeBoer has said it’s not a long-term injury, so the Knights will remain hopeful that Pacioretty can join the team soon.

Goalie Battle: Marc-Andre Fleury was the Knights’ starter for most of the season but trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner has apparently caused a goaltender controversy, with both goalies expected to play during the round-robin games and the playoff starter still yet to be determined. This is a situation to monitor.

Dallas Stars

None

Edmonton Oilers

None

Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros

Goalie Battle: Veteran goaltender Pekka Rinne has been the obvious choice to carry the Predators through the playoffs for the past several years but the team has chosen to make this a goalie battle heading into the 2020 NHL Playoffs. Rinne hasn’t had his best season and the 25-year-old Juuse Saros is reportedly being given the chance to overtake him as the Predators’ starting goalie.

Vancouver Canucks

Michael Ferland

The Canucks were one of the few relatively healthy teams when the season was suspended in March, with the notable exception being the status of Ferland. Ferland had missed most of the season while dealing with a concussion but he’s back with the team and has a chance to be in the lineup when the Canucks begin the playoffs against the Minnesota Wild.

Calgary Flames

None

Winnipeg Jets

None

Minnesota Wild

Devan Dubnyk, Alex Stalock, Kaapo Kahkonnen

Goalie Battle: The Wild have actually had a three-man goalie competition through training camp in June and July, with Dubnyk, Stalock and Kahkonen all being given a chance to win the job for the playoffs. Dubnyk is the most recognizable name of the three but Stalock is probably the guy who is most deserving based on his play in the regular season.

Arizona Coyotes

Darcy Keumper, Anti Raanta

Goalie Battle: This seems to be less about competition and more about load management, as the condensed playoff schedule could make it hard for the same goalie to play day in and day out. Keumper is the likely starter with Raanta being used occasionally as well. Both goalies have played well for the Coyotes this year.

Chicago Blackhawks

Corey Crawford

Like Auston Matthews, Crawford tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in training camp but is symptom-free and has rejoined his Blackhawks teammates. Crawford still figures to be the Blackhawks’ starting goalie for their series against the Edmonton Oilers.


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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.